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Pro Football Hall of Fame Continues to Play Catch-up With Class of 2016 0

Posted on February 06, 2016 by Dean Hybl
There was no surprise in the selection of Brett Favre for the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

There was no surprise in the selection of Brett Favre for the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Between 2000 and 2009, the selection committee for the Pro Football Hall of Fame chose for induction a grand total of 54 former player, coaches and league officials. You might think that number reflects exclusivity and ensuring only the “best of the best” are recognized with the highest honor for the sport. However, in a sport with 32 teams and more than 1,600 players every year, the reality was that the committee left a lot of deserving players waiting in the wings.

Because of that, over the last seven years the committee has been playing catch-up. Where a class of six or seven was once an exception (only nine times between 1970 and 2009), every class since 2010 has included at least six inductees and with the addition of eight new members for 2016, there have now been consecutive classes of eight for the first time since 1967 and 1968. Since 2010, 50 former players, coaches and contributors have been selected for the Hall of Fame.

I applaud the current committee for recognizing the mistakes of the past and continuing to grow the HOF, but even with their larger classes there continues to be questions and confusing decisions.

When Brett Favre finally retired (for the last time) following the 2010 season, there was little doubt that he would be a member of the 2016 Hall of Fame class. The other seven people who will join Favre in Canton this August include a few more surprises.

Perhaps the most disheartening thing about the Class of 2016 is that both of the senior selections, Dick Stanfel and Ken Stabler, are not alive to enjoy their day in the sun. Both died within a month of each other during the summer of 2015.

What is especially frustrating is that both players have been eligible for the HOF for decades and in fact had both previously been finalists.

One of my biggest disappointments with the HOF has always been the high number of former players or coaches who wait sometimes for as many as 50 years after they have retired before they get selected.

You would think that if someone is “Hall of Fame worthy” they would be inducted within a reasonable time after retirement, but unfortunately that hasn’t always been the case.
Read the rest of this entry →

Counting Down the Greatest Offensive Performances in Super Bowl History 3

Posted on February 06, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Max McGee caught more passes in Super Bowl I than he did during the entire 1966 season.

Max McGee caught more passes in Super Bowl I than he did during the entire 1966 season.

Sunday’s Super Bowl will feature a budding star quarterbacking one squad and an aged gunslinger likely facing his final showdown on the other. While we tend to focus on Cam Newton and Peyton Manning, the reality is that victory in the Super Bowl will likely hinge on the performance of someone far less known than either starting quarterback.

Super Bowl history includes a mixture of Hall of Fame players rising to the occasion on the biggest stage of the game and second tier players who picked the Super Bowl to have a career day.

This article marks part two of our look at the top 50 individual offensive performances in Super Bowl history. Of the 50 performances picked for the list, 32 were by players who either are in the Hall of Fame or should realistically expect to receive a bust in Canton at some point. However, when you look at the “best of the best” performances, 19 of the top 25 were by players who are Hall of Fame caliber.

Here is a look at our picks for the 25 best individual offensive performances in Super Bowl history. For this list we looked at statistics, but also considered game situations. That is why the Super Bowl where Joe Montana threw 5 touchdowns was highlighted in the first look at performances 50-26, but his most clutch performance is featured here. We did take into account whether the team won the game, but did not give any weight to who won the game MVP Award as there have been many occasions where you can scratch your head at who received that award.

Be sure to check out part 1 with numbers 50-26. I welcome your comments or ideas as to which performances you think should be on this list.

25. Max McGee – Green Bay Packers – Super Bowl I – 7 rec., 138 yards, 2 TD
It was no surprise that the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the first Super Bowl, but it was quite a shocker that one of the stars of the game was aging wide receiver Max McGee. Having caught just four passes in limited action during the season, McGee expected his biggest score of the weekend to be when he broke curfew the night before the game. Yet, after Boyd Dowler suffered a broken collar bone in the first minutes, McGee made history by scoring the first touchdown in Super Bowl history.

24. Kurt Warner – St. Louis Rams – Super Bowl XXXIV – 24-45, 414 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Before the 1999 season Kurt Warner had thrown all of 11 passes in the NFL. In Super Bowl XXXIV he threw the ball 45 times for 414 yards (still the single game Super Bowl record) to lead the Rams to a 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans. The Rams marched up and down the field, but were held to just three field goals in the first half and the Titans came all the way back to tie the score at 16. Warner then connected with Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown that proved to be the game winner.

23. Eli Manning – New York Giants – Super Bowl XLVI – 30-40, 296 yards, 1TD, 0 INT
With his team trailing 17-9 after the New England Patriots scored on the first drive of the second half, Eli Manning completed 17 of 23 passes for 176 yards to lift the New York Giants to their second Super Bowl victory over the Patriots in five years. He was especially impressive when marching the Giants down for the game-winning touchdown as he completed five of six passes for 74 yards.

22. John Elway – Denver Broncos – Super Bowl XXXIII – 18-29, 336 yards, 1TD, 1INT; 1 rushing TD
In his final NFL game, John Elway went out in style by passing for 336 yards and a touchdown and scoring another touchdown on the ground as the Broncos won their second straight Super Bowl. The Broncos seized control early with Elway’s 80-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith giving them a 17-3 lead. Read the rest of this entry →

Counting Down the Greatest Offensive Performances in Super Bowl History: 50-26 2

Posted on February 03, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Joe Montana was supposed to be the "other quarterback" in Super BOwl XIX, but instead led the 49ers to a dominant victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Joe Montana was supposed to be the “other quarterback” in Super Bowl XIX, but instead led the 49ers to a dominant victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Since Super Bowl I in 1967, the “big game” has become the premier stage for NFL players to either create or cement their legacy. The first 47 Super Bowls are full of special Super Bowl performances. Some were by familiar names that used the Super Bowl to either put a stamp on a Hall of Fame career or propel them into a spot in Canton. But not every Super Bowl hero was a household name before their performance on the big stage. There have been several players whose otherwise unspectacular career includes one shining performance in front of one of the largest television crowds of all-time.

In this article and the second part (which will be posted later this week), we are looking specifically at the 50 best individual performances on offense in a Super Bowl.

To develop the list we did take into account game statistics, but also looked at game situations when analyzing which players and moments were worthy of inclusion. For example, though Joe Montana tossed five touchdowns as the 49ers routed Denver in Super Bowl XXIV, he actually was ranked higher in other Super Bowls because his performance in critical moments was instrumental to their victory.

In ranking performances whether the team won the game was considered, but there have been some Super Bowl performances by players on losing teams that were clearly among the most important. One thing that received little consideration was who was awarded the Super Bowl MVP as there have been numerous occasions when the MVP award has gone to someone other than the player who seemingly provided the best performance.

So below is a countdown of performances 50-26.

50. Kurt Warner – Arizona Cardinals – Super Bowl XLIII – 31-43, 377 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
For a fleeting moment, it appeared that Kurt Warner was going to be the first quarterback to lead two different franchises to Super Bowl victory. He and the Cardinals played well enough to win, but a late Pittsburgh drive denied them of victory. Interestingly enough, Warner holds the record for the top three passing yardage totals in Super Bowl history with his 377 yards in Super Bowl XLIII ranking second.

49. Rod Smith – Denver Broncos – Super Bowl XXXIII – 5 rec., 152 yards, 1 TD
While Terrell Davis and John Elway are the best remembered offensive players from their back-to-back Super Bowl wins, receiver Rod Smith also played an important role in their win over the Falcons. His 80-yard reception in the second quarter helped break the game open and he finished with 152 receiving yards.

48. Michael Pittman – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Super Bowl XXXVI – 29 rushes, 124 yards, 0 TD
While the defense garnered all the headlines during the Buccaneers victory over the Raiders, Michael Pittman was the workhorse for the offense. He rushed for 124 yards, including 75 in the first half as the Buccaneers established control of the contest.

47. Thurman Thomas – Buffalo Bills – Super Bowl XXV – 15 rushes, 135 yards, 1 TD; 5 rec., 55 yards
While the Buffalo Bills didn’t win Super Bowl XXV after missing a last second field goal, Thurman Thomas certainly did everything he could to put them in position to win. He rushed for a 31-yard touchdown to give the Bills a lead early in the fourth quarter and then trailing by two in the final minutes he rushed for 33 yards in the final drive that ultimately ended in the famous Scott Norwood wide right field goal. Read the rest of this entry →

Manning and Brady to Duel Again with Super Bowl Berth at Stake 0

Posted on January 24, 2016 by Chris Kent

It’s late January and the NFL playoffs are in high gear. While the NFC Championship Game matches upstarts from Carolina and Arizona, the AFC Championship Game has the usual combatants in New England and Denver facing off. While the NFC Championship Game features a first-ever matchup of teams, the AFC Championship Game is the second matchup of these AFC heavyweights in the last three years with the Patriots and Broncos battling at Sports Authority Field in the Mile High city of Denver. The winner punches its’ ticket to Super Bowl L.

That can only mean one thing. Another chapter to be written in the storied saga of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady dueling with playoff lore and supremacy on the line, not to mention a trip to the Super Bowl at stake. While it will more importantly be the Broncos and the Patriots competing against each other that will impact the outcome, the competitiveness of these two future hall-of-fame quarterbacks cannot be underestimated. It is also highly likely that how Brady and Manning perform will go a long ways in determining who wins. That is the way it goes when you play quarterback. Perhaps no one other position in all of sports has more responsibility and glamour tied to it.

Entering Sunday’s game, Manning and Brady have met 16 total times during their NFL careers with Brady holding an 11-5 edge. This season’s AFC Championship Game will be the fifth time they have met in the playoffs where they are 2-2. Sunday’s game also is the fourth time the two have met in the AFC Championship Game with Manning holding a 2-1 edge. Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to the 2006 AFC Championship over Brady and New England en route to his only Super Bowl victory and also beat Brady and the Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship game in Denver. Brady’s lone win against Manning and his team in the AFC Championship Game came in the 2003 game with a 24-14 victory over the Colts en route to a win over Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Furthermore, the winner of their head-to-head playoff matchups has gone on to win that season’s Super Bowl three out of four times. The only time it did not happen was in 2013 when Manning and the Broncos won 26-16 to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII where they got routed by Seattle 43-8.

Peyton Manning can recall a lot of big games against the Patriots during his time as a Colt.

Peyton Manning can recall a lot of big games against the Patriots during his time as an Indianapolis Colt.

So what is it that has made Brady and Manning not only stand out but remain so good for so long? In a league where it is possible for a team to go from worst to first in a year within a division and turn the fortunes of their franchise around in just two or three years, it seems as though father time would of caught up with them and the core of their respective teams by now or maybe earlier in their careers. While both have showed signs of slowing down, it appears that they each still have something left in the tank.

While Manning, drafted number one overall in 1998, missed all or parts of six games due to injury in 2015, he still has immense wisdom from 18 years of experience which includes three trips to the Super Bowl. Brady, selected in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft, is 4-2 in six Super Bowl appearances. Outside of the 2008 season, which he missed due to a knee injury he suffered in the season opener, Brady has been a constant presence for New England. Brady has started 223 out of 225 games he has played in during his regular season career. Furthermore, Brady has defied any kind of skill erosion with age by logging 13 seasons in which he has started all 16 regular season games, including the last seven straight. Brady continues to play at a high level and has been able to avoid injury while playing through the typical strains and sprains encountered in playing professional football.

What is more impressive about Brady is that he has played with different players at the offensive skill positions and still performed at a high caliber level for so long while attaining both individual and team success. Between 2001 and 2004, when the Patriots won three Super Bowls in a four-year span, Brady was throwing to players like wide receivers David Patten and Troy Brown while handing off to running back Antowain Smith. Brady also had a great multi-purpose player in Kevin Faulk that was a threat as a runner or a receiver and he had Jermaine Wiggins at tight end. As the decade moved on, Brady had players like Corey Dillon at running back along with Deion Branch at wide receiver. Branch was the most valuable player of Super Bowl XXXIX, won by New England. Brady also looked to tight ends Ben Watson, Christian Fauria, and Daniel Graham. Read the rest of this entry →

The Biggest Football Injuries of 2015 & How Players Are Recovering 2

Posted on January 18, 2016 by Ashley Andrews
Losing Tony Romo to a broken collarbone twice in the 2015 season derailed the season for the Dallas Cowboys.

Losing Tony Romo to a broken collarbone twice in the 2015 season derailed the season for the Dallas Cowboys.

Football is a tough sport. Injuries are a constant part of the game that can even occur on the practice field when players aren’t even giving it their all. That’s the nature of a contact sport with strong guys that can weigh in at a solid 300 pounds.

But the 2015 season was riddled with hundreds of injuries that sidelined just as many players. Experts are blaming the onslaught of injuries, many of which happened early in the season, on overuse. It’s a result of football teams training and/or playing almost year round.

Past injuries were also a hot topic. One of the biggest stories of 2015 was the NFL concussion lawsuit settlement that is now being appealed. The settlement would pay a total of $1 billion to 20,000 plaintiffs that suffered brain trauma while playing in the NFL.

Let’s check in on how players with some of the most serious injuries this season are recovering.

Ricardo Lockette’s Possible Career-Ending Neck Injury

Mid-way through the NFL season, Seattle Seahawk’s wide receiver Ricardo Lockette suffered one of the scariest injuries of the year. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Lockette said that he was extremely dazed after a hard hit and felt completely numb. He ultimately had to have neck surgery for the disc and ligament damage that he suffered. Lockette felt normal mentally after surgery, but he then began a long physical rehab process that started with just walking down a hall. It’s still uncertain where he’ll be at the beginning of the 2016 season. Read the rest of this entry →

Ken Anderson: HOF Worthy Quarterback 3

Posted on January 10, 2016 by Dean Hybl
Ken Anderson

Ken Anderson

The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was one of the most accurate passers of his era an arguably among the most glaring omissions to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

An unheralded third round draft pick out of Augustana College in Illinois, Ken Anderson arrived at a crucial time for the Cincinnati Bengals and their coaching staff that included legendary innovator Paul Brown and up-and-coming genius Bill Walsh. Read the rest of this entry →

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